Among the improvements: more power, titanium exhaust, retuned suspension.
Ford closes out the GT’s Le Mans chapter with four honorary liveries
Ford Motor Company returned to Le Mans in 2016 to campaign the V-6-powered Ford GT supercar. Now that the Dearborn automaker is wrapping up its latest effort at Circuit de La Sarthe, it is saying au revoir (until we meet again) to Le Mans with special liveries on the four factory GT racers that Chip Ganassi Racing will be entering in this year’s event.
This year’s 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours will be the final running of the race for the current factory Ford GT racing program, which will be shuttered at the end of this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championshipin North America.
The colors (and car numbers) are meant to commemorate Ford’s success at Le Mans, both historically and in the modern era.
The #66 Ford GT helmed by Stefan Mücke (GER), Olivier Pla (FRA), and Billy Johnson (USA) is painted black with white racing stripes, just like the Ford GT40 that Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon drove to their controversial victory in 1966.
The Ford GT40 program was initially based on a design by Lola’s Eric Broadley and the cars were first fabricated in the UK. For the 1967 race, Ford entered the GT40 MkIV, fully designed and built in Dearborn. With A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney at the wheel, Ford’s victory in 1967 was an all-American affair. That car’s bright red paint is reproduced on this year’s #67 car, driven by Andy Priaulx (GB), Harry Tincknell (GB), and Jonathan Bomarito (USA).
The late Ken Miles was the primary test driver for Ford’s endurance racing effort in the 1960s. He finished first in the 1966 Le Mans race, with co-driver Denny Hulme, but they were deprived of the title. Miles ran away with the race but the close 1-2-3 finish that Ford staged for the cameras resulted in the McLaren-Amon car being awarded the victory because it had started eight meters back in the field to Miles’ pole winner, and the title goes to the car that travels farthest in 24 hours, not the first car over the finish line. To commemorate the car that finished first but came in second place in 1966, the #69 car, with Scott Dixon (NZ), Ryan Briscoe (AUS), and Richard Westbrook (GB) driving, is finished in light blue with red highlights, just like the Miles-Hulme car.
The fourth factory Ford GT, wearing #68, celebrates itself. The exact same car won its class in the 2016 race and it returns in the red, white, and blue livery it sported then. Dirk Müller (GER), Joey Hand (USA), and Sébastien Bourdais (FRA) will pilot it.
In addition to the factory team cars, privateer Keating Motorsports will be running the #85 Ford GT in the GTE Am class. It will wear the same graphic layout as the factory cars, but in the distinctive colors of sponsor Wynn’s purple, orange, and blue logo. Drivers Ben Keating (US), Jeroen Bleekemolen (NETH), and Felipe Fraga (BRA) will compete in #85.
You can get your first look at the new liveries this Sunday, June 2nd, when official Le Mans testing begins. The race will be held June 15–16.